The group of figurative artists that used to congregate and drink in the Colony Room Club in Soho since the late 1950s was dubbed as “The School of London” in the famous manifestos by Ronald Kitaj. But hardly any of the founding members of this “London School” were originally from London. Kitaj was a native from Cleveland, Ohio, and Leon Kossoff’s parents were Russian Jews. Lucian Freud was born in Vienna and Frank Auerbach in Berlin. A migrant from Ireland and an openly gay man, Francis Bacon was fond of being seen as a social rebel and outcast, a foreigner of a kind. Later they were joined in the Colony Room by a motley crowd of artists, writers, musicians and layabouts - George Melly and Jeffrey Bernard, Daniel Farson and Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. But regardless of ethnic origins, age differences and disparate artistic styles, they were united in one thing: their fondness of drinking and talking. This fondness has been devotedly shared by Zinovy Zinik since his arrival in London from Moscow via Jerusalem in 1976.
Zinovy Zinik, a resident of Deal, a novelist and short story writer, was born and grew up in Russia, but has been a British citizen for forty years now and calls Soho his second home. Thirty years ago he was invited by James Birch and Francis Bacon to become a member of the legendary Colony Room and since then he has been a familiar face in a number of Soho’s dens of iniquities. His collections of essays and short stories- One-Way Ticket(1995 ) and Mind the Doors(2001) - as well as his many novels such as Sounds Familiar(2016 )are packed with details and incidents of Soho’s life. He is a regular contributor to The Times Literary Supplementand BBC radio. Zinik will guide us through Soho’s past and present and share with us some of the memorable moments of his experience of being a Russian Sohoite.